By Gavin Axelrod
A wire-to-wire domination of the Brock Badgers lifted the No. 9 ranked Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team to an 87-55 win at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) Feb. 1.
Ryerson got off to a hot start, shooting 61 per cent from the field while holding Brock to just 14 first quarter points.
Rams point guard Tevaun Kokko, who’s first in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) in scoring led all players with 11 points in the opening frame and 21 on the night.
“Having a good start helps get a team going,” said Kokko. “Quick bursts get the guys going and it helps open up the court [It] kind of gets the defence to focus on me and get other guys going.”
Saturday’s contest was highlighted by a second quarter three-point shooting clinic from Ryerson’s Mouhamed Ndiaye. The first-year guard shot 3-6 from deep en route to 18 points in 19 minutes of action.
“My teammates are trusting me more and I’m helping the team,” said Ndiaye. “I’ve been having conversations with coaches and they like the energy I’m bringing. I’m just trying to stay consistent every game.”
Ndiaye has become a secret weapon of sorts for Ryerson, scoring in double-figures for the second straight game.
“He’s given us a lot on both ends of the floor,” said Rams head coach Borko Popic. “He was hurt early and then it took him a little bit to find his rhythm as a first-year guy but he’s taking it in stride now and he’s playing at a really high level.”
High octane offence aside, Ryerson’s lockdown defence played a major role in their victory. The Rams held their opponent to an abysmal 26.3 per cent shooting from the field.
“We [are] number one in the country in defensive field goal percentage, and we take pride in that,” said Popic. “Even when our offence has been up and down, our defence needs to maintain [and] we’re going to continue to have a focus on that side of the ball.”
In addition to keeping Brock’s shooters at bay, Ryerson dominated the boards and outrebounded the visitors 52 to 39. Rams forward Tanor Ngom tied Brock’s Daniel Kayer with a game-high 12 rebounds.
“For a team like Brock, you have to be locked in defensively because they have a lot of good players,” said Ndiaye. “The defence is really important, it helps the offence more.”
Rams guard Jayden Frederick nearly had a double-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Playing complete games has been a goal for the Rams and on Saturday night they lead for 39:49 of the game’s 40 minutes. The only time Ryerson didn’t lead was when the game was tied at 0-0.
“We’re just trying to stay consistent within a game, possession to possession,” said Popic. “We’re certainly getting there. The last three or four weeks we’ve continued to find our rhythm, played well together and we just gotta keep it going.”
Four games remaining in the regular season but their objective remains the same.
“We [have to] keep building, keep growing and keep winning. Finish the season strong and have some good momentum going into the playoffs,” said Kokko.
UP NEXT: Ryerson heads on the road to face the Guelph Gryphons on Feb. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.